Thursday, August 26, 2010
On McCourty vs. Verner as Titans' CB
By Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans wrapped camp with two lineup questions lingering. Who replaces Gerald McRath at outside linebacker during his four-game suspension? And who starts at right cornerback?
That corner battle is a big talking point among Titans’ faithful.
Second-year man Jason McCourty’s been in the spot the most, but rookie fourth-rounder Alterraun Verner is putting up a strong challenge. Cortland Finnegan (groin) has missed a lot of practice and hasn’t played in two preseason games, so there has been ample game action high in the lineup.
McCourty is faster than Verner. (Finnegan says McCourty is the second fastest corner on the roster to him, McCourty says he ranks No. 1.) Verner is regarded as more instinctive.
McCourty is steadier, though he gave up a couple plays against Arizona. Verner is more of an instinctive ball hawk and he has one of the Titans’ three preseason interceptions. While a lot of practice observers say Verner picked a ball a day in camp, others played it safer and said he averaged maybe one every two days.
“Jason knows the system, he’s worked hard, athletically he’s everything you want in a corner,” GM Mike Reinfeldt said. “He’s more confident, he’s come so far from last year. He needs more confidence, more experience. Prototypically, he’s what you want in a corner.
“Verner started late because of school, but he came in from Day One and started making plays. He’s an interesting guy because he doesn’t quite have the deep speed you might want or think you have to have in a corner. But he’s very good at making plays, being around the ball and figuring out ways so that his deep speed doesn’t matter.”
Thursday during a seven-on-seven passing period, Verner broke up a Chris Simms pass intended for Kenny Britt up the right sideline that he said he should have picked. Not long later, McCourty tipped a ball meant for Paul Williams and it popped up for Michael Griffin to intercept.
The two said there’s been no revelation about a timetable. It’d be good to have the starter in place opposite a healthy Finnegan for a few series in the preseason finale on Sept. 2 against Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense. But Fisher’s said only that he intends to roll someone out 10 days later for the opener.
My take: “Steady” and “consistent” are long-time buzzwords for Jeff Fisher. He values consistency above a lot of other qualities. While fans see Verner’s interceptions, the coach will see the other side of his ledger -- perhaps some gambles that didn’t produce big results -- more thoroughly.
If Fisher was picking right now, he’d go with steady and start McCourty.